When God Gives You Epileptic-Shaped Lemons

Dear Jack-

The past eleven days have been, without even competition, the most challenging of my life.  It’s quite a story, and rather than get into all of the details right now, I’ll summarize them in bullet points:
  • Last Friday, September 17th, Lydia, Adrianna, Lyd’s mom, and I were on our way down to the Solanco fair, with me driving.  While on 222, I began seeing shapes to my left side of my vision, and over a short time the shapes grew to the point that they were preventing me from being able to see the road and traffic.
  • I pulled to the side of the road, told Lydia I couldn’t see, and lost control of my hands and head which were then shaking in a focal seizure for about 45 seconds, during which I was either unconscious or in a strange half-conscious state of mind.
  • I “awoke” feeling very strange, but coherent, and we decided to drive to Quarryville Medical Clinic to get checked out.  Lydia drove there, for obvious reasons.
  • The clinic was closed, and we ended up at Lancaster General Health’s ER at the recommendation of a doctor we talked to on the phone.  I felt fine at that point, but very famished with hunger.
  • In the ER we had a battery of tests and blood work done, all of which came back normal.  I even talked to my mom and and dad on the phone and told them not to come home early from their beach vacation because I was feeling close to 100%.
  • We were about to be discharged, the nurse literally on her way down the hall, when I began seeing the shapes again and told Lydia I thought I was having another seizure.  This time I lost consciousness and had a grand mal seizure, one which required 8 nurses/doctors to keep me from convulsing off the bed.  I don’t remember much of anything that night, but at that time was admitted into Lime 7 in LGH, which is for brain trauma patients, mostly stroke.
  • Picking up the pace, I was released Sunday with the diagnosis of epilepsy.  I’m on some pretty strong meds that seem to be controlling any seizures so far, but are having their way on my body.  Each day I’m not sure if I’ll be wired, tired, ecstatic, or depressed.
  • Epilepsy is pretty much a catch all disorder that’s diagnosed if a victim has two or more unprovoked (and unexplained) seizures.  From my understanding, it’s a regular “mis-fire” in the electricity in the brain, and can, on occasion, ripple throughout the brain, resulting in a seizure.
  • For the 27 years of my life so far, I’ve lived a pretty healthy life with no traumatic experiences, such as this, save for some sports related injuries along the way.  Some of which were concussions, which may or may not have led to the epilepsy.
  • So after being discharged on Sunday afternoon, we returned home, and for the next week or so my body wrestled with adjusting to the meds as well as recovering from the actual seizure.
  • The past few days have been much better, and make me optimistic for the long term results of the medicine … it’s just been a challenge.  One of the more obvious challenges is I’m not able to drive for 6 months – a state law for anyone recently diagnosed with epilepsy.

So, it’s been a rough week.  During this all, Adrianna fell down the stairs at my parents’ house, Lydia, Adrianna, and me all went through a nasty stomach virus, and then Adrianna fell in a weird way that ripped her fingernail off in the bloodiest boo boo of her young life.  And yet, I’m amazingly happy and positive through it – mostly, I believe, because of the strong prayers being offered consistently up by friends, families, and local churches.

I’m grateful, however strange that seems, for everything so far.  Here’s why:
  • I’ve met, and will continue to meet regularly, a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy outside of Harrisburg, and have been really pleased with the care received with him so far.
  • My wife, who has had a more traumatic week than I have by a long shot (I don’t remember the worst parts) is amazing and supportive and loving.  I’ve always loved Lydia, but seem to appreciate each day with her just a little bit more now.
  • My family is bending over backwards to help me and we were able to stay at mom and dad’s during the week so they could help take care of Adrianna and me,
  • My friends have all offered to shuttle me around and anything else we need.
  • Ron, my employer, visited me in the hospital and told me to take as much time off as I need, even if it goes beyond what I have available. He’s also paying for office space in downtown Lancaster that enables me to work 2 times a week from there, so I don’t have to drive.
  • I woke up the same person after the seizure, with no noticeable negative effects, and God just so ordained it that I started reading a book on how the brain heals and changes itself the week before this all took place.
  • The loss of my license actually forces me to begin working in Lancaster, something I’ve included in my five year career goals.  God must have thought these plans needed fast forwarded, and I’m happy to be able to walk to work several times a week.
  • I have a new way of empathizing with those who have health issues, and a new appreciation of each day that we’re given.  Things I may have waited to do “tomorrow” I realize need to be done today.

But it wasn’t, and isn’t, easy.  I cried several times during the week.  I threw up.  I felt like I weighed twice my weight and couldn’t move.  My head felt like it was going to simply implode.  I felt like I was at my wit’s end – but I wasn’t.

In my devotions, I’ve been reading through the Psalms, and this time has found me in Psalm 42ish-47, all of which seem to focus on God’s sovereignty, his complete control.  It’s helped me not to question whether God wants me to go through this or not.  He obviously does, and he wants to use it to advance his plans through me, whatever they may be.

I can choose how to react to it: play the victim and find a convenient excuse not to do good things, or take this epileptic-shaped lemon and make same dang tasty lemonade.  It wasn’t my choice that this happened to me – but it is my choice in how I respond.

I’ve returned to work, and have had a great two days back in work mode already, and with the help of the medications will most likely not suffer any long term effects.  So it’s not like my life has been destroyed and rearranged in some manner that’s devastating – but even so, it’s been challenging.  And I choose to accept the challenge and run with it, not roll over and embrace sympathy-deserving excuses on why I can’t achieve things I want to achieve.

Don’t duck the lemons thrown at you, Jack.  Don’t get hit in the face and stay down.  Run with them.  Make the best of them.  No matter what their flavor, they’re from God.  I can’t accept a theology that embraces God’s blessings and curses the challenges.  They’re both from God, and he’s promised to help me get through each of them.  Till next time, Jack.

Sincerely,
J.


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10 thoughts on “When God Gives You Epileptic-Shaped Lemons”

  1. Hey man,
    Great post. Glad to hear your feeling slightly better and back to “normal”. It’s weird how all of your life you see all of these other people going through these types of things and you think it’ll never happen to you or someone close to you, but then it does. If you haven’t already, check out my dad’s blog: http://gordiemiller.blogspot.com/

    It’s always an encouraging read. God bless man!

    Clint

    1. Clint- thanks for the comment. Yeah, getting back to “normal” has been quite an adjustment. So true – so true about seeing other people go through tough life circumstances, and yet it’s so hard to “connect” until it happens to you. I haven’t checked out Gordie’s blog, but I’ll be adding it to my RSS feed now. Thanks for passing that along.

  2. Jeremy – Thanks for sharing from your heart. Great post!

    As I’ve been processing this whole crisis, the uncertainty and the lack of answers from the doctors is what jumps out at me. Epilepsy is an enigma. We don’t know if you will have another seizure. We don’t know if that Friday night was a fluke or if you will have a tendency for more seizures. We don’t know if you will continue to have nasty side effects from the medication. We don’t know if you will eventually be able to get off the medication. The best the doctors have been able to do is give us statistics. I believe God has taken us to a place where the only certainty is in Him.

    Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)

    God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
    The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46:1, 2, & 11)

    What a faith builder this has been! I’m proud of how you and Lydia have trusted in God through this whole thing.

    1. So true – I was actually just talking to someone from Keystone this morning about their diagnosis with extreme asthma, something they have never struggled with before. The doc’s have no idea what caused the sudden diagnosis, and it’s going to be a condition that needs to be dealt with for the rest of their life.

      Thanks for teaching us what it means to live by faith.

  3. I tend to read over this particular writing almost every day since you wrote it. I am so thankful for you and Lydia in how you are trusting God. As the verses posted tell us–it really does make a difference in Who we trust! It has indeed been a challenging time-but we have felt the power of prayers and the presence of God. I have to agree with Lydia-as you constantly amaze me too. I love you from the very bottom of my heart–I am so proud of you.

  4. Been thinking over this periodically in the past few weeks. From Philippians 4:6-7

    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    The first part is obviously great. I think many of us are familiar with that. But its the response, the second part that gets me… “And the peace of God…will guard your hearts and your minds…”

    Interesting that Paul doesn’t write that “God will give us everything we ask for.” Sometimes he will. But that’s not the promise. The promise is greater. He will guard our hearts and our minds.

    That is my prayer for you Jeremy. And it sounds like you are already heading in that direction. Many blessings to your family.

    Kindly,
    Mike

    1. Amen, Mike. And that’s the prayer that I feel has been answered. So many friends and family have been praying for me and for our family, and even though physically I’m not where I want to me, spiritually I truly feel that God’s peace has guarded my heart and my mind. Great reminder. Thanks, Mike.

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